EPA Settles with Libertas Copper Over Wastewater Discharges

On Monday, a settlement was reached between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Libertas Copper, a subsidiary of Hussey Copper, in the Western District of Pennsylvania. The settlement brings a close to allegations made by the EPA surrounding the defendant’s unlawful discharges of pollutants without a permit at its smelting facility.

Under the terms of the settlement, Libertas “agreed to perform a comprehensive environmental audit, implement an updated environmental management system, and pay an $861,500 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law (PCSL) at its smelting facility in Leetsdale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.”

As a formality to ensure that the settlement is enforced, the EPA filed a lawsuit against Libertas on Friday before it was quickly settled. According to the settlement, the defendant is accused of discharging polluted wastewater and stormwater from their copper production lines through their waste pipes and into the Ohio River from as early as November 2016 to the present. These pollutants include copper, chromium, nickel, oil and grease, lead, pH, TSS, and zinc, the filings said. This behavior violated the stipulations set in their 2016 issued NPDES permit, which limits and prevents companies from discharging certain pollutants.

“This settlement reaffirms that industrial polluters must do the necessary work to ensure that their operations are not causing harm to our nation’s waterways,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are happy to have partnered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to ensure the continued protection of the Ohio River.”

This is not the first time that Libertas and Hussey have had issues with pollution. There were many instances of the company not following the rules of the permits they held, and “was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $550,000 and to serve three years’ probation after pleading guilty to three felony CWA charges in December 2020 for offenses involving a multi-year pattern of submitting false discharge monitoring reports” according to the EPA press release.